Returning home from our first research day, shortly after we decided to renovate, we stood in the kitchen discussing how we wanted to change the footprint. Here’s the layout of our kitchen as it is pre-renovation:
In order to come up with a better plan, you first have to understand what isn’t working about the original plan. Here is our ‘hate’ list, based on too many years of making do:
- The work triangle from Hell has my fridge, range, and dishwasher crammed into one end of the galley portion of my kitchen. When the fridge door is opened, the dishwasher must be closed, and vice versa. And when either is opened, no one may get past the appliances. Likewise, if the oven door is open, the doorway to the dining area is blocked.
- While the work triangle is crammed into the narrowest part of the room, the other part of the kitchen — over half the space! — is rendered useless by a set of stairs leading to a side door.
- For a family that likes to eat, and for a Mom who likes to cook fresh food every day, there is too little storage. Worse, the existing storage — in a pantry cupboard and closets at the top and bottom of the stairs — is poorly organized, leaving a lot of wasted space, and too much food that gets lost at the back of the cupboards.
- Our refrigerator is much too small. When local produce is in season, we fill the back of our pickup truck with bins and coolers of fresh food from the farmers’ market. When we bring it home, we are hard-pressed to find space to store it all, and often keep the overflow in coolers with ice packs. Even in the winter, our fridge can barely hold 2 weeks’ worth of groceries.
Having a better idea of our ideal appliances — especially confirming that my dream of a much larger refrigerator was possible in my non-commercial kitchen — got us fired up to come up with a better layout. It’s an occupational hazard that I can’t talk about a floor plan without graph paper and pencil in hand — if we’re going to make a plan then let’s do it to scale and be sure it will work! And so, with Colin handling the measuring tape, and me handling the drawing, we sketched out our first plan, which I later transferred to computer:
This plan called for the side door to be raised to kitchen level, thus eliminating the stairs inside, and moving them outside the house. (Our kitchen is 5 steps above ground level at the side of the house.) By eliminating the stairs, we were free to make better use of the end wall of our kitchen. We already had 2 closets on the kitchen side of the wall, and we knew that there was a closet we could annex from the adjoining office/bedroom on the other side of the wall. This would give us space for a gorgeous, and very large, all-fridge side by side with an all-freezer, built into the former bedroom closet space. The fridge and freezer would be flanked by pantry storage, with sliding shelves for better access to the back of the cupboards.
At the other end of the room, the decision to move the dining room wall 20″ further INTO the kitchen may seem counter-intuitive when looking for more kitchen space, but it will allow us to seat 8 or 10 for dinner, rather than maxing out at 6 as we do now. We will also substitute pocket doors for the existing french doors, allowing us to access the kitchen during a dinner party, without asking the person in the head chair to move out of the way.
We decided to move the sink and dishwasher away from the cooking area, to avoid having the oven door crashing into the dishwasher door. We plan to keep the range in the same general area, along the same wall that it’s on now, so that it’s not the focal point of the room from either the dining area or the front hall.
By closing up the stairs, we can add a peninsula to the end of shortest side of the ‘galley’ area, thus gaining more counter space and storage beneath. This led naturally to opening up one wall to the front hall and stairwell, so that the people around the peninsula can see who’s coming and going from the house. The bigger archway will also let more light from our south-facing kitchen windows into the front hall.
Shortly after coming up with this plan, we began to wonder if local by-laws would allow us to move our side door up and add stairs outside the house. Our house is very close to the property line and our neighbour’s house. A call to the local planning office quickly confirmed that we would not be able to get a permit to build stairs outside, as there wasn’t enough clearance between the property line and the required width of the stairs.
So much for the side door! Rather than giving up our plan to eliminate the stairs inside the kitchen, we opted to eliminate the side door altogether. After all, we only use it to access our back deck when we’re grilling, and we can do that almost as easily through our front door. (There is a gate to our back yard right off the front porch, as the ‘front’ door is set to one side of the house.)
Eliminating the side door means that this corner of the pantry will be far less awkward. And, not having to worry about traffic flow should allow us to have a slightly longer peninsula. Notice that I’ve earmarked the end of the peninsula to be used as a bookcase for cookbooks.
Until we get feedback from the contractors who are quoting on the job, and until we meet with the kitchen company to get their quote, this is the plan. We’ll see how it changes as we get input from the experts!